Echoes of Invasion: Wesmere Welcome | Scene 7

“Do they do this every month?” Heppa asks Neia as she guides them towards Dancer’s Green.

“This is the last full moon of summer,” Neia says. “In a month, autumn begins. Tonight, though, the sky is clear, the moon is bright, and the heat of the day has dissipated. It’s time to party.”

“Do they do this every year?”

“They do.”

“Who decides that?”

“People who want to party,” Neia replies. “The council can’t tell us how to have fun.”

“We don’t have dances,” Heppa tells her. She turns to her cousin for confirmation, “Do we? Or is my family just not invited?”

“No, we don’t, not really,” Tric confirms.

“Maybe it reminds everybody of Uncle Anador,” she says, dropping her voice instinctively when she says the name. “Maybe Mother stopped them all.”

“Well, we do have the feast in mid-winter,” Tric points out, though it certainly is no youth dance party. “And the annual gathering of water dowsers.”

“So what do you do for fun?” Neia asks.

“I tell stories,” Tric says.

“Oh, well, there’s probably people who will be interested in hearing a tale or two from your little forest.” Neia turns to Heppa for her answer.

“I mean, there’s school… and then you can do things in the forest…” Heppa has a whole closet full of hobbies she has not gotten back to, but she views those as experiments more than fun.

“You help your dad research things,” Tric reminds her. “And there’s the scouting course.”

“Oh, yes, I read scrolls in Daddy’s library! And ask people questions. Yes, I sometimes go to school, but I do a lot of independent research.”

“The line between work and play is not pronounced in our forest,” Tric sums up. “We have fun wherever we go, even when on official missions.”

“We did go to the Full Bloom Festival in South Tower. That was fun,” Heppa says.

“It’s a human festival. It was busy,” Tric adds.

Neia wrinkles her nose. “It was probably also dirty.”

“Yeah,” Tric agrees, though that was not a big deal to him. The field was not yet a muddy mess when he participated in the archery competition. He and Heppa describe all the different competition types: archery, duels, flower carts. “They are really competitive in a wide variety of areas.”

“Humans have such short lives,” Neia says, “they need some way to note their passing.”

“And a lot of market stalls,” Heppa continues on. “And entertainers.”

“And a lot of alcohol,” Tric says. “A lot.”

“There will be wine at the party, of course,” Neia tells them. 

Tric and Heppa spend some time describing all the different types of human alcohol. Tric grants that elvish vintages are superior, but human brews are far more diverse. “Anything that you can stick into water, they will turn into alcohol.”

“Or milk,” Heppa adds. That sounds disgusting to Neia, but Heppa goes on to talk about how blaand, one of her favorites, is fermented. When that topic is exhausted, Heppa broaches a more delicate one. “I’ve been meaning to ask you… Can you sense corruption? Did you learn how to?”

“I’ve only been studying for twenty years. I can’t be expected to have the same abilities that Soliana has. But I’ve got my sights fixed on being a star one day. I’m sure that if I was put in a place with corruption, I would be able to tell that it was there,” Neia says. 

She certainly sounds confident, but her words imply she has not ever actually sensed corruption. Heppa presses for more details and learns that there is no special protocol taught in school for this matter. Rather, with experience, one can become so in-tune with nature that one can sense the discordance of corruption. That is actually a little disheartening for Heppa to hear, as it implies she will not be able to find someone to give her a crash course in this particular skill. Still, she politely thanks Neia for being helpful.

As they continue along the way, Heppa asks Neia about her own goals, and they are manifold. She insists that she will one day be one with the forest, but she does not wax eloquent about the learning process to get there. Heppa is not sure whether Neia wants to make an impact or desires greatness itself. 

Tric picks up this drive and casually asks Neia whether she has ever been to the Grey Woods. When Neia says no, he asks leadingly, “Did you ever want to go?” She is initially confused about what is prompting this line of questioning, but then she remembers that is where they said they fought a wraith. Tric assures her that is gone now but adds, “There are some woses there that need elvish help.”

“They need an elf to guide them in some fashion?”

“A wose would probably say that they need one with short legs but fast feet,” Tric says.

“A sentry is what they asked for,” Heppa adds. “And there is some corruption in that forest, but I wasn’t able to sense it.”

“Is that something you would be interested in? Being a sentry?” Tric presses.

Although the title makes it sound like there will not be much action, it does also appeal to Neia’s desire for recognition. When Tric makes the point that the woses were happy to have found elves of action in him and Heppa, she grows more intrigued. Neia has never met a wose, so Tric opens one of his pouches and shows Dolmathengalin’s seeds to her. She is floored that Tric has been entrusted with baby woses. He explains that he is delivering them to another wose near Estbryn Forest.

“So you’re a wose messenger in addition to being an emissary?” Neia asks, her opinion of these newcomers increasing.

“I guess so,” Tric says, overly humble. “When a wose asks you to do something, you do it. I didn’t go into the Grey Woods intending to flush out all the shadow mages, but Dolmathengalin set me straight. Anyway, think about it. Maybe they could just use someone for a couple decades or a century.”

“Like just a beginner position?”

“Honestly, I think just having anyone there now would be appreciated. But someone with skill and drive would be really good. And you could become one with that whole forest because there is no one to share it with.”

“This sounds like it has a lot of potential,” Neia says. “I’ll talk it over with my mentor and see what she says.”

Tric is satisfied with that for now. At the very least, Neia will now be annoying the council for her own sake, rather than about Tric and Heppa’s purposes.